Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Hug and an Update

Obviously, I'm not actively posting on this blog. Anyways, here's a half-ass update:

First, our coffee company Bicycle Coffee Co. is growing everyday. We roast coffee in our warehouse in Oakland and we deliver bags of beans by bicycle to grocery stores and offices in San Francisco and the East Bay. We just recently got picked up by a local Whole Foods.

Second, when I'm not helping with coffee, I'm an assistant special education teacher at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School. I work with 1-3 graders that have been labeled with emotional disturbances. It's a trip and I'm learning a lot. I've also been taking child development courses at the local city college. It feels good to be back in school.

Third, my oldest brother Matthew got married to a nice girl named Rosanna. Initially I was skeptical of Matt being married, but now I'm okay with it. Rosanna is good for Matt, and who knows Matt may be good for her.

Love to you all,


Our Warehouse

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nugget, Family Chicken, Dies at 3 months

Nugget “Gertrude” Chicken June 5, 2009 – August 13, 2009. Born in Compton, California. Resident of Mikael Kirkman’s backyard in Albany, California. Friend to us all, except maybe ‘Stimpy’ the cat and the raccoon that most likely mauled and killed her.

Our friend, Zakariah Latzka, rescued Nugget from the streets of Compton and brought him to Mikael’s backyard in a cardboard box. She enjoyed chirping and pecking at bugs and stuff.

Nugget died before we could even get a single egg out of her. One night she was in her cage with a blanket over it, and the next morning all that remained was a small pile of soft, white feathers.

An ongoing memorial will be held in Mikael Kirkman’s backyard. In lieu of flowers, we prefer contributions be made in the form of Jim Beam and weed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sow be it

Mikael Kirkman and our little chicken.

Earlier this year our friend Mike Kirkman decided to take-over his neighbor’s backyard
in Albany, California. Matt and I decided to help him. The yard belongs to an older man with a long grey ponytail and a matching beard. He prefers to stay inside.

His yard was an overgrown mess of blackberry bushes, old soup cans, and lots of opossum skulls. It took about a month of drunken bon-fires and covert trips to local dumpsters before we could even see dirt.

It’s good dirt. Decades of neglect and mulching have resulted in fertile soil. Every vegetable we’ve planted, except for red peppers, has grown. Here’s a list:

Walla Walla Onions
Green Onions
Swiss Chard
Broccoli Raab

The backyard is also home to Mike’s honeybees, Zack’s chicken from Compton, and our coffee roaster.

In the garden we roast coffee, eat food, drink beer, and play backgammon. It’s my refuge from the madness of the city. The city is full of zombies and scarecrows. And they’re always telling me about their run-ins with the CIA, asking me if I want to buy used batteries, and getting mad when I don’t let them use the bathroom.

Eventually, I will leave the city, live in a secluded cottage near a river, and create a family with a beautiful woman. Until then, I have Mike’s neighbor’s backyard.

Here’s some photos (Mike took-em):

Haunted shack in a haunted yard

Haulin stuff

Sowin seeds

Cousin Brad doin the watering

The wooden box in the middle is full of honeybees

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cafe Negro

A few months ago we were roasting coffee beans in a wok with a wooden spoon. The wok was then exchanged for a stove-top popcorn popper with a hand crank. And now the popcorn popper has now been upstaged by a modified bbq.

Matt and I left Central America with the intent to roast gourmet, Panamanian coffee and sell it in San Francisco. But when we returned I got scared.

So I fished around for jobs. Interviewed for a few. And was even given an offer. But I just couldn't do it.

Turns out the idea of trading my creative energy for health insurance and a salary is way scarier than attempting to sling coffee in a city that probably has more coffee roasters than rainbow flags.

So that's what's been goin-down in China-Town (or at least a near China Town at 7th and Market). We buy unroasted beans from the farmers we met in Panama (through a middleman in Oakland). Roast the beans at Mike's place in Albany (North Berkeley). And sell cups of it for $1.50 at the Etiquette Lounge during the day (Brandon and Neej's nite club).

Once we settle on a name we'll jump on our bikes and start delivering whole-beans to homes and businesses. We're also working on a roaster that is powered by a stationary bicycle. I'm beginning to notice a theme.

Here's some photos of the Etiquette Coffee House (Photos compliments of Frank Yeean Chan):

Monday, March 30, 2009


We’ve left Central America.

One night we were drinking Cacique in a bar with Don Toni and the next morning we left our Costa Rican apartment and flew to California. But don’t worry we were sure to leave a sack full of colones next to our overdue electric bill.

It was time to go. After seven months in Central America I realized I was waiting for a train without tracks.

Now we’re hobo-sapiens.

For the last month our home-base has been Mike and Jordan’s house in Albany, California. We spend our time painting tiles with elementary school kids, roasting coffee, and turning an overgrown yard into a garden.

Sometimes I get all anxious and panicky because I’m out of money and sleeping on my buddy’s couch, but somehow it seems like a learning experience. I’m not comfortable relying on the generosity of others, but right now I don’t have a choice. In the future, when I have a couch of my own, you will all be welcome to crash on it (even if you snore).

I don’t want to talk about plans, because plans can change. Instead, let’s look at some recent accomplishments:

1. The neighbor’s backyard that was once ruled by blackberries, ivy, and opossum skulls is almost a legitimate vegetable garden.

2. We’re now able to roast good tasting, Panamanian coffee over the stove.

3. One time for my dad’s birthday my brothers and I gave him the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card (in a hard case). I hope it’s still in your sock drawer Steve McKee, because although your portfolio is about as impressive as Brian Bosworth’s football career, that card is about to go up in value. On a related topic, I’ve started a petition to bring Steve “The Chef” Scheffler back to Seattle, maybe the Sonics will follow.

In conclusion, I love you all.

Here’s some photos (compliments of Mikael Kirkman):

Matt roasting coffee.
Albany, California

Mikael and Cameron enjoying pure Panamanian coffee.
Volcon, Panama

Matt and Ronny at "Doble Cero."
Heredia, Costa Rica

Last documented run-in with Don Toni.
Heredia, Costa Rica

Monday, February 2, 2009

News from the Eclectic Front

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Glory be to Barack O’Bama.

We’re no longer English teachers.
We don’t have jobs.
Our funds are low.
And it’s looking like the tree-houses will have to wait a few more years.

On the flip-side:
My beard is almost visible in photos.
Last week, I made-out with a beautiful Argentinean girl.
And we’ve been spending time with some quality individuals: Dan Armstrong, Brad Butler, Neej Gore, Brandon McKee, Deiter Shultz, Greg Vital, and a whole herd of Kirkmans...just to name a few.

So that’s pretty much what’s been going down in China town. Nothing is certain and Matt and I are constantly brainstorming. I’m scared and excited. I’m viewing this as an opportunity to explore the power of creativity within a group.

Right now we're touring coffee farms.

Here’s some photos of our recent Panamanian excursion.
[Photos compliment Neej Gore's Facebook - Thanks NeeJ]

Brad, Deiter, and Neej trying to figure out which children belong to them. So many love children, so little time.
[Northeast Panama]

Mikael, Cameron, and Matthew. Hard lurk pays off.
[Bocas del Toro]

Mikael, Brandon, Cameron. Unproductive hostel days.
[Bocas del Toro]

Brad, Neej, and Brandon on a coffee tour with the famous Senor Ruiz. [Boquete]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Me and My Brother Matt

I’m teaching Costa Ricans how to talk like me. I’m paid six dollars an hour and I live in a vacant classroom with my brother, he’s also a teacher. In our room there’s a whiteboard that we use to conjugate verbs. We did have a pull-down map of the world, but a social studies teacher took it from us.

Our school is in Heredia, a town located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. The climate here is comfortable. Not too hot or humid. It can be boring at times, but for now it’s a good place to hang-out and practice Spanish. The jungle can wait.

Twice a week we have Spanish lessons with a chill teacher named Ronny. Our progress is slow, but I think we’re almost ready to initiate conversations with attractive chicas. Sure, the conquest of Central America by the Spaniards wiped-out entire civilizations and destroyed indigenous ways of ways of living, but at least the mixing of these cultures created lots of beautiful women.

The food here is pretty basic: meat with rice and beans. Yesterday we ate pig feet. It was good, but a little boney (kind of like me). We eat most our meals in the cafeteria at the local university. Soon we plan to move out of the classroom and into our own spot. Then we can start cooking our own meals.

Our drinking has definitely gone down since we left San Francisco. During the week we drink beer in glasses with ice at these tavern-type places called cantinas. They're full of old men and haggard prostitutes. Our favorite cantina has a jukebox: the current jam is “Making Love out of Nothing at all” by AirSupply.

On Saturdays we hang-out with an old guy named Don Toni and drink cacique, a cheap liquor made from molasses. Don Toni is the owner of the school. He has a healthy mustache and kind of looks like a bear. He’s always telling me that “He’s going to cut my long legs with his machete,” and refers to me as his, “Gay-Nicaraguan-Gringo.” He’s probably the best friend I have down here.

In conclusion, Happy Thanksgiving.